8 surprising things you didn't know came from Scotland

Dolly the Sheep represented a major scientific breakthrough. Picture: Shutterstock.
Dolly the Sheep represented a major scientific breakthrough. Picture: Shutterstock.
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We all know that Alexander Graham Bell (kind of) invented the telephone.

In a list of Scottish inventions, most people could probably also name things like the television, penicillin and golf.

Rockstar's world-conquering series GTA began life in Dundee. Picture: Rockstar North.

Rockstar's world-conquering series GTA began life in Dundee. Picture: Rockstar North.

However, the world of Scottish inventions is much wider and weirder than you might imagine.

Read More: 5 spooky discoveries made in Scotland's peat bogs

From its earliest tinkerers to its modern-day thinkers, Scotland has introduced all kinds of things to the world. Here's just a few of the stranger ones.

Read More: The five creepiest UFO sightings Scotland has ever seen

Chicken Tikka Masala has been regularly voted Scotland's favourite dish. Picture: Shutterstock.

Chicken Tikka Masala has been regularly voted Scotland's favourite dish. Picture: Shutterstock.

Dolly the Sheep

Ranking alongside Shaun and the ones little Bo Peep keeps misplacing, Dolly is probably the most famous sheep in the world. The first mammal cloned via nuclear transfer, Dolly was created at Edinburgh University's Roslin Institute back in 1996. Dolly was, and is, regarded as a major breakthrough in cloning technology and prompted a huge amount of media coverage.

Chicken Tikka Masala
It's no secret that Glaswegians have a fondness for spicy food, but their contribution to the field is a little less well known. When legendary Glasgow restaurateur Mr Ali Ahmed Aslam heard a customer complaining about the chicken tikka being served in his West End curry house, the Shish Mahal, he added a mildly spiced tomato cream sauce to it, and a British staple was born.

Grand Theft Auto
The Grand Theft Auto series has now sold over 200 million copies and stands as one of the most influential forces in modern gaming. Hard to believe that it all began with a small Dundee games developer called DMA Design.
Six main games, countless awards and innumerable controversies later, the studio is now based in Edinburgh and known as Rockstar North. In tribute to their home town, the Dundonian devs snuck the Forth bridge into Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Forensic Fingerprinting
Henry Faulds was born in North Ayrshire and educated at the University of Glasgow, later studying medicine at Anderson College. While accompanying an American friend on an archaeological dig, Faulds was startled to find how detailed the fingerprint impressions left in ancient clay fragments were. He became fascinated by the idea that each individual's fingerprints were unique and, after the hospital in which he worked was broken into, used his theory to prove the innocence of a man the police had wrongly arrested. In 1880, he published the first scientific paper on the subject of forensic paper in the journal Nature.

Refrigerators
Of all the places in the world to worry about keeping things cool, Scotland brought the world its first artificial refrigerator in 1775. Professor William Cullen's machine involved a vacuum and a boiling container of diethyl ether which absorbed the heat from the surrounding area. While it had no practical application at the time, and was a long way from the big white boxes we now keep our bacon in, it was a vital first step towards the modern refrigerator.

Toasters
Another ahead-of-his-time thinker who would leave a lasting impression on kitchens across the world was Alan McMasters. While working to develop a brighter lighting system to illuminate the carriages of Glasgow's underground railway, McMasters inadvertently hit upon a way to toast bread using iron wires. However, both the invention and the inventor proved to be was more than a little temperamental. After it caused a major fire in a kitchen in Guilford, McMasters denied any wrongdoing and accused the toaster's owner of “not holding appropriate respect for the power of the electric toaster”.

Hypnotherapy
After taking in a show from French “animal magnetist” Charles Lafontaine, Scottish “gentleman scientist” (this was a time of excellent job titles) James Braid was astonished by the performance but sceptical of the performer's claims that magnetic forces were to blame for the trances he could put people in. After experimenting on himself extensively – and then also his wife and friends – he found the state could be induced by having the subject focus intensely upon a specific point. Later, he found the power of suggestion alone was enough to achieve it, and published a book on his discoveries.

The Robot Olympics
Never let it be said that the best days of Scottish innovation are behind us. The world's first ever Robot Olympics took place at the University of Strathclyde's Turing Institute in 1990. It featured 12 teams from as far afield as Japan, Canada and Mexico, and attracted 2,500 visitors across its two days of events. The Robot Olympics saw contestants vie for glory at the Multi-Legged Race, Obstacle Avoidance and one event simply called Behaviour.
During the Wall Climbing Event, England's ROBUG II was disqualified for “Veering out of lane and demonstrating inappropriate behaviour in front of children”.